“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This famous line, just one of Forrest Gump's many insightful witticisms, is a telling ideology of life—sports in particular.
As I sat down to fill out my NCAA bracket, I tried to keep this mantra in mind, despite my knack for always being right. However, even the most brilliant minds are susceptible to error, considering the magnitude of upsets such as Chaminade’s dismantling of top-ranked Virginia in 1982 and George Mason's "Cinderella" Final Four run in 2006.
Unfortunately, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, my projected Final Four team from the Midwest Region, gave me some pretty bad chocolate. They laid a gargantuan Cadbury Crème Egg (which are actually pretty good) against the underdog Cleveland State Vikings, 84-69.
Is this some sort of sick joke? How was my bracket catapulted to complete destruction on the first weekend of the tournament? I can’t help becoming infuriated with the Demon Deacons. I felt pretty good about their Final Four prospects.
First, Wake Forest played in the ACC, which is arguably the best conference in the nation—sending six teams to the Big Dance. Second, with wins over Indiana, North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland this season, they must have been doing something right. Additionally, I like sophomore guard Jeff Teague. He’s been the go-to-guy for the Demon Deacon offense, and NBA scouts have shown increased interest in him.
Do I now seem at least a little bit justified in my Final Four pick of Wake Forest or was I unaware of the juggernaut that is Cleveland State? Granted, the Vikings did upset Bob Knight and Indiana in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament, but that was 23 years ago.
But how, in the spectrum of reality, could the Demon Deacons lose to a basketball team from Cleveland that doesn’t have LeBron James? Furthermore, how did the score become so lopsided? Am I missing something here? Since when is the Horizon League a juggernaut conference? Oh wait, it’s not!
While Cleveland State did upset the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome earlier this season, it does not make them the greatest team ever assembled. I think when Arizona, the ugly stepchild of the NCAA Tournament who supposedly did not deserve a shot at the national championship, easily defeated the Vikings—there’s a gut-wrencher for the Arizona “haters”.
The Demon Deacons are entirely to blame for ruining my bracket, and have alienated me from picking them again in the future. I blame Wake Forest, because I have exhausted all other possibilities except for the chance that I could have possibly been wrong—which, I can assure you, never happens.
In the end, I offer my congratulations to Coach Gary Waters and the Cleveland State Vikings. Although I am still fuming and somewhat bitter about the crippling blow the Vikings dealt to my bracket, I know that it is not the fault of Cleveland State. The blame lies entirely with the inadequacies and deception of a once-proud basketball institution that has produced the NBA likes of Tim Duncan and Chris Paul.
Ultimately, while I'm wallowing in the embarrassing misery of early elimination, I can at least take consolation in conclusion. Even though my perfection has been blemished, it was not of my own doing. I always know what chocolate is coming out of that box, Forrest. As you always say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I wouldn’t know too much about that, but you can ask Wake Forest.